While growing evidence suggests that microfinance is an effective approach for improved women’s health, a significant gap remains in our understanding. The objective of this review is to synthesise the findings from published literature focused on microfinance and health issues particularly affecting women, including HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, mental health, and violence. Forty-one articles that examine the impact of microfinance participation on women’s health were identified through a systematic search of electronic databases, coded using a structured abstraction form, and synthesised. Review results indicate that the impact of microfinance on women’s health is an area in great need of research and publication attention. Varied quality and reporting in the identified articles restricted the ability to draw concrete conclusions regarding the relationship between microfinance participation and women’s health, but led to the identification of current gaps in existing published research. Future research should work to address the recommendations provided in order to offer additional evidence to better understand the use of microfinance programming as a structural intervention to improve women’s health.
A systematic review of microfinance and women’s health literature: Directions for future research.